Sunday July 7th, 2013

Stage 9Saint-Girons / Bagnères-de-Bigorre

Start 11h30 GMT 2+

Dan Martin victorious on a day Froome is isolated...

Stage summary07.07.2013Stage 9- Saint-Girons / Bagnères-de-Bigorre

The first 80km of the ninth stage reminded everyone that although Sky is strong, it is fallible. In his first hours of racing in the yellow jersey, Chris Froome found himself under attack from the Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff teams who relished the fact that the race leader was isolated without help from his right-hand man, Richie Porte. Generally the action from the general classification candidates comes at the end of a mountain stage but today it happened right from the start. Garmin-Sharp was one of the main early aggressors but Movistar jumped on the fact Froome found himself all on his own. The big loss for Sky happened in the opening hour and Porte never recovered; even when the Tasmanian did get some momentum, Movistar rubbed salt into his wounds by accelerating at the front of the yellow jersey's peloton. Porte would drop dramatically down the rankings after finishing 17'59» behind the stage winner!
Porte loss was one of the main stories of the stage as he would finish over 14 minutes behind and, more to the point, it demonstrated that Froome will not have the same sort of support that Sir Bradley Wiggins enjoyed in his winning campaign at the Tour in 2012.
Gains on general classification were made by a handful of riders and the Irish winner in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Dan Martin, wore the widest smile at the end of a stage on roads where he first saw a stage of the Tour de France in 1999. The Garmin-Sharp rider has come of age in 2013, winning one of cycling's 'monuments' - Liège-Bastogne-Liège in April - and now he's got a stage victory to his name as well as eighth place overall. It happened on a day when Movistar was determined to prove that Sky won't necessarily ride all the way to Paris unchallenged. Chris Froome held his nerve, marked his rivals, and finished the stage in 14th place. He was forced to fend for himself and it reminds us that anything can happen in a race like the Tour de France. Ahead likes a transfer to the north of France, a day of rest and the race resumes on Tuesday with the same leader but a new rider in second overall...

The progress report
On the menu for Chris Froome's first day as leader of the Tour de France is a relatively short stage from St-Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre that includes five mountain passes: the Portet d'Aspet (cat-2 at 28.5km), col de Mente (cat-1 at 44km), col de Peyresourde (cat-1 at 90km), col de Val Louron-Azet (cat-1 at 110.5km) and the steep grind up the Hourquette d'Ancizan (cat-1 at 138km). The intermediate sprint was in Bagnères-de-Luchon (at 73km). The official start of the stage was at 11.33am with 185 riders at the sign on. The non-starters were Dennis (GRS) and Schar (BMC). There were attacks from the moment the stage began; the early aggressors included: van Garderen, Hoogerland, Roy, Albasini, Plaza, Chavanel, Martin (GRS) and Danielson. The peloton was essentially all together at the top the first climb but Jeannesson (FDJ) led the two attacking Garmin-Sharp riders to the line of the Portet d'Aspet.

Porte dropped on dramatic second climb
On the col de Mente, Evans (BMC) was the first GC rider to be dropped but he would soon be joined by the rider in second place overall, Porte (SKY) and Froome had to ride the second climb without any team support; Kennaugh had crashed before the first ascent and spent the early stanza of the race trying to rejoin the yellow jersey's peloton that was composed of 33 riders including five from Saxo-Tinkoff (with Contador and Hernandez who were at the front and setting the pace). Up ahead Trofimov (KAT) was on the attack with two Garmin-Sharp riders: Hesjedal and Danielson as well as Anton (EUS) and Rolland (EUC). Danielson was first over the col de Mente and the yellow jersey's group – led by Quintana and Valverde (MOV) was at 55”. Porte crested the second climb 2'10” behind the stage leaders. On the descent, Evans rejoined Froome's group that was led by a group including Gallopin, Kreuziger Castroviejo, Costa and Losada. Murayev (AST) quit the Tour at 60km.

Movistar animate the action with constant attacking
Valverde attacked the yellow jersey on the descent of the col de Mente but Froome was able to respond. Castrovejio waited for Valverde and Plaza had split the yellow jersey's peloton with an attack in the valley with only Froome able to follow. By then five riders had formed at the front of the stage: Hesjedal, Rolland, De Clercq, Bardt and De Gendt... the latter of whom led over the line of the intermediate sprint (at 73km). Just before Luchon, the Contador/Evans group caught the Movistar-led mob and there were five Saxo-Tinkoff riders, four from Movistar... but only one from Sky: Froome. They were 55” behind the stage leaders while Porte's peloton (including Boasson Hagen, Stanndard and Kennaugh) was at 2'10”. Noval (TST) and Gutierrez (MOV) abandoned at the 78km mark.

Col de Peyresourde and Col de Val Louron-Azet
On the early slopes of the third climb, there were six in the lead: Bardet, De Clercq, Rolland, Bakelants, Hesjedal and De Gendt. They were 48” ahead of the yellow jersey who was still without any team support while Contador and Valverde were both assisted by four riders each. With 5km to climb, De Gendt was dropped by the lead group that was 50” ahead of the yellow jersey (with Porte's peloton at 2'10”). In the final 2km of the climb, Clarke (OGE) rode ahead of the peloton and caught De Gendt. The Australian attacked the descent led the stage with 70km to go. He began the Val Louron-Azet climb with a lead of 30” on the six early escapees, 1'45” on the yellow jersey and 3'30” on the Porte peloton.
With 5km to climb on the fourth ascent, Clarke was 20” ahead of Rolland, De Clercq and Bardet who had dropped Bakelants and Hesjedal (at 1'20”). Once Kennaugh had been dropped by his group (±90km), Porte started to bridge the gap to the yellow jersey's group on his own. There were four Movistar riders in the yellow jersey bunch and once they realised Porte was closing in, they accelerated and Froome remained without any team support on a day the Movistar team proved to be the dominant force. With 53km to go, Clarke was caught by Rolland's trio. Porte joined forces with Gadret, Erviti, Velits and Mederel but hovered 2'30” behind the yellow jersey. With 40km to go, the yellow jersey's group was 20” behind Clarke's quartet; Porte group was 3'30” behind Froome's group that was led by four Movistar riders.

Hourquette d'Ancizan
Bardet attacked the lead group at the base of the final climb but he was caught 38km from the finish. By then Clarke, Rolland and De Clercq had been caught and dropped by the yellow jersey's group. There were four Movistar riders in this group: Plaza, Valverde, Quintana and Costa... and Froome marked them closely as they pulled away from Porte's selection that was at 4'45”. With 5km to climb, Martin (GRS) attacked and was chased down by Fuglsang (AST). With 3km to climb, this pair led the yellow jersey's peloton (of 15 riders, including: Froome, Evans, Schleck, Peraud, Contador, Kreuziger, Rodriguez, Nieve, Valverde, Castroviejo, Quintana, Navarro, Gesink, Ten Dam, Mollema, Poels and Serpa) by 20”. At the top, Martin and Fuglsang were ahead of Poels (VCD) by 33” and 45” ahead of the yellow jersey's selection, led over the top by Kreuziger, Froome and Schleck. Porte was 11'50” behind and riding to the finish with Hesjedal and Trofimov.

Martin and Fuglsang lead the way: a victory for Garmin-Sharp
They bolted ahead with 5km to climb and would not be seen again until the finish: Martin was the rider who started the attack and he got great cooperation from Fuglsang all the way to the final kilometre. By then the GC riders were out of contention: 30” behind. A little bit of tactical riding after the ‘Flamme Rouge' cost Martin 10” of time but he rode from the back until the 250m to go when he opened his sprint and beat Fuglsang to win Garmin-Sharp's first stage of the 100th Tour and the Irishman's first. His success comes roughly on the same roads where he first watched the Tour as a child in 1999. He moved up from 13th overall to eighth.
Chris Froome rode almost the entire stage without a team-mate by his side but he finished the stage in 14th place in the same time as the other GC men – excluding, of course, Richie Porte – and the leader of Sky will wear the yellow jersey again when the Tour resumes in the north of France after a transfer and a day of rest.

Stage 9 Saint-Girons / Bagnères-de-Bigorre

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21

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